Is your home-based business giving you a pain in the neck? Literally?
Before you start snickering, let me ask you this; when you get into your car, do you make adjustments to the interior? Do you move the seat forward, tilt your mirror, and maybe even tilt the steering wheel a bit? And why you do that? Comfort of course. A more comfortable drive means you will be a more efficient and non-distracted driver.
Your home-office workspace is really not any different. You may not have mirrors and steering wheels to adjust, but you do have chairs, keyboards, and monitor height to be mindful of. As a work-from-home woman myself, I am fully aware of the urge to cut corners, save money, and “just make due” when creating a ergonomically correct workspace.
Ergonomic office spaces — What is ergonomics?
First, what is ergonomics? According to the government agency OSHA, “Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Effective and successful ‘fits’ assure high productivity, avoidance of illness and injury risks, and increased satisfaction among the workforce.”
Business shape, size, and location don’t seem to matter when it comes to lack of ergonomic correctness. As a small business owner, you may chalk it up to being cautious with company finances or lack of resource. But the bottom line is; when you short-change your own ergonomic comfort, it only leads to sore backs, stiff necks, numb legs and headaches. If this is happening to you, it’s time to take charge and get serious about your home office ergonomics.
As a work-from-home professional, a great deal of your day is probably spent sitting and peering at a computer screen and after a while, that wear-and-tear on your body will catch up to you. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms that could be plaguing you and what you can do ergonomically to change them.
Office accessories for headaches and eye strain
The problem could be the lighting in your office. Try placing a desk lamp on your desk and make sure you are not facing a window. Glare from a window or a computer monitor is often the culprit in eye strain and headaches. Most computers these days come with antiglare features, but many older models do not so invest in an antiglare screen that fits over the viewing area of your computer.
Your neck could be the problem as well and height of your monitor does matter. The top your monitor’s screen should be about even or a slightly lower than eye level. A too low or too high screen will cause uneven pressure on neck muscles and vertebrae, causing headaches or even migraines. This can be corrected by the use of monitor risers and there are some great products on the market for purchase that will raise your monitor in 2” increments until the height is correct. If all else fails, tuck a ream of copy paper under your monitor to raise it to the ergonomically correct height.
Ergonomic hand and wrist accessories for your office
Arms, elbows, and wrists can be directly affected if you are sitting wonky at your keyboard. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve compression disorder of the hand/wrist area and it is debilitating for those inflicted. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects 1 percent of the general population and 5 percent of the working population.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), repetitive strain injuries are the nation’s most common and costly occupational health problem. Not only does it affect hundreds of thousands of American workers it costs employers more than $20 billion a year in workers compensation. Utilizing things like wrist rests and mousepad rests will help keep your hands and wrists straight and reduce bending. Rest your elbows on your chair’s armrests and adjust them so the weight of your arms is supported by the armrests, not supported by your shoulders. If your hands and wrists feel stressed and sore, rest them often.
Office accessories to eliminate lower back pain
If at the end of the day your “lower quadrant” feels like it just spent 10 hours on some metal bleachers, you need to take a hard look at your chair. Your office chair should be of good quality and not a “five-dollar-wonder” from a garage sale. The seat should be tilted forward slightly which helps keep the natural curve in your back to reduce the uneven pressure on your lower back which can lead over time to chronic low-back pain. If you look at today’s typical office chair, they all have across-the-board similarities such as a “waterfall” front edge of the seat. This sloped design reduces “pressure points” by spreading your weight evenly over the surface of the seat so your tailbone isn’t carry all of your weight.
Another feature that is similar is what is referred to as a “five star base.” This simply means the chair has 5 wheels instead of 4 for more stability and ease of rolling. The back of your chair should be high enough to not only support your back, but maintain the natural “hollow” of your back as well. Chair height should be noted because if your chair is too low and your knees too high, it puts unnecessary pressure on your tailbone and low back. Your thighs should always be parallel to the floor, and if they are not, get a footrest.
Get up and move once an hour!
Get up and MOVE. The rule is 10 minutes to every 60. Get up and walk around for 10 minutes every 60 minutes. Stretch those legs and swing your arms to get your blood moving. Working from home is no excuse to skimp on ergonomic correctness. Use these guidelines to ensure good ergonomic posture, and take the measures you need to take care of the one-and-only body you have.
Written By: Rebecca Flansburg